Dual champion jockey Oisin Murphy has been suspended for three months following a positive sample for metabolites of cocaine – but his explanation that he has never taken the drug has been accepted by officials.
Following a test at Chantilly racecourse on 19 July, the Irish jockey was told by France Galop on 19 August that his “A” sample had returned positive for the class A drug. On the same day Oisin arranged for an independent laboratory to undertake hair sampling, which came back negative for the drug, and denied ever taking the drug.
In a decision issued by the commissioners of France Galop on 27 November Oisin was told he had been found in breach of the rules and was suspended from riding for three months.
A spokesman for the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) said in the decision the commissioners accepted Oisin’s explanation that he did not take cocaine and that the positive sample arose as a result of unintentional, environmental contamination – but he must serve a three-month suspension as the rules relating to prohibited substances operate on a strict liability basis, and he failed to avoid putting himself into a situation where contamination could occur.
In a statement Oisin thanked France Galop and the commissioners for a “fair” hearing and for accepting the evidence he presented.
“This evidence included my hair sample results – the results of which I am making public today – and an expert witness statement from an eminent toxicology and anti-doping expert,” he said.
“Whilst I am obviously disappointed that I will still have to serve a three-month suspension, I am pleased the commissioners accepted the evidence presented and am hugely relieved to have been cleared of taking cocaine.”
Oisin added he “respects” the rules and decision of France Galop, and will not be appealing the suspension.
“Despite my relief, I regretfully put myself in a situation whereby cocaine has been able to filter into my system through environmental contamination and must live with the consequences. As a professional sportsman I cannot put myself in a similar situation again,” he said.
“Even though I have been exonerated from taking cocaine, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Sheikh Fahad al Thani, David Redvers and Andrew Balding and thank them for their support. I also want to thank my legal team, particularly Florence Gaudilliere, who represented me in France, Rory MacNeice, the PJA, Johnno Spence and others who have advised and supported me throughout.”
Oisin also apologised to the Qatar Racing team, his owners, trainers, supporters, weighing room colleagues, commercial partners and Racing to School.
“The next three months will give me much time to reflect on my actions but I will learn from this experience and come back better and even more determined than before,” he said.
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Trainer Andrew Balding said Oisin arrived at Kingsclere in 2012 and is “very much part of the Park House family”.
“I have been very proud to watch him thrive in the saddle but also as an ambassador for the sport,” he said. “Oisin is a kind, trustworthy and dedicated part of the team. I never doubted he was innocent but I know this will really hurt him and I will make sure we do everything to help him return as a stronger and better person.”
A spokesman for the British Horseracing Authority told H&H the organisation is a signatory to the international agreement between racing nations – and all signatories of this agreement must include within their rules a provision that suspensions incurred in recognised racing authorities must be reciprocated.
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